The unending story of the 38 Street improvement dispute was once again on the agenda of the Town Council on Tuesday, Nov 26. With the previous council denying a refund to 38 Street residents over local improvement five years ago, Nick Kohlman brought his case to newly elected councillors.
He met with council to introduce them to what has now become a saga for town administration and 38 Street residents. Since Mayor Rick Bonnett and Coun. Loanna Gulka both live on 38 Street, they recused themselves from the meeting.
Kohlman’s concerns remain after the former council refused to heed administration’s recommendation to refund 38 Street residents for errors in local improvement. At that time, Coun. Doug Gill, Mayor Larry Henkelman and councillors John Jacobs and Shayne Steffen were the only ones who could vote, as three other councillors were also residents on 38 Street. The recommendation was defeated 3-1 with only Gill voting in favour of the refund.
Former Mayor Henkelman and former councillors Doug Gill and Les Oberst were also in attendance on Nov. 26 to hear how council could respond to Kohlman’s latest request. He presented his findings in writing as well, to give councillors a chance to conduct their own research in the matter. One of his issues was over residents putting 106 questions to administration in May with no responses.
Questions were posed to the town administration by four individuals, but it is believed the majority came from Kohlman, who is a Ponoka County resident. “Because there were supposedly 106 questions — I don’t know, I never counted them — it was deemed that they didn’t have to answer them and the matter was sort of closed as far as the town was concerned,” Kohlman said.
Administration did provide refund options as a result of further findings in a May meeting with residents; options of $72,000 or $92,000 were offered, up from $56,000, the original offer in the May public meeting. As there was no consensus from residents, the request was defeated.
“Any issue that can generate 106 questions shouldn’t just be ignored. It should be dealt with,” stated Kohlman.
Coun. Carla Prediger wanted to know how Kohlman became involved with this situation. “What is your role here being a non-Ponoka resident?”
Kohlman said he had received written authorization from residents Tilley Lloyd and Gary Stickney and one more family. He and Bill Kuncio have also helped Dr. Peter Davis, another resident, but they do not have written consent from Davis. Kohlman was hoping for answers on the location of a 20-metre water line but council wanted more information.
However, it is too soon to reply, said one councillor.
“All of us have 5,000 questions regarding it,” explained Coun. Marc Yaworski. “And we’re going to have to go through this item by item to find out.”
Kohlman said it has been almost five years since he and Kuncio started asking questions on the local improvement in the street. He believes they have not been given all the proper documentation. “This has been a struggle for us. It shouldn’t have been this way.”
“It may come as a shock to some but we really don’t enjoy this,” he added.
He asked council to look into his claims and bring about a fair resolution. Prediger suggested council meet together to discuss the issue once they have more information. No other decisions were made.